Mt Buller News

When the lifts stop turning - try ‘ski touring’ to stay on the slopes

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SKI Touring is not only for the backcountr­y skiers but can be a great way of staying on the snow when COVID-19 lockdowns occur.

Ski touring, AT skiing, ski mountainee­ring, randonee - whatever you call it - is becoming more and more popular.

There are two essential components to ski touring - education and gear.

Before you consider what equipment you’ll want to acquire, think about where you’ll be skiing, how you plan on skiing, and the type of terrain you’ll most often encounter while skiing.

The difference between a ski-mo/ randonee racing rig (super lightweigh­t, designed more for speedy ascents) and a side country rig (resort-friendly and not intended for a lot of skinning) is vast.

While often-heard logic of “light is right” will generally hold true for most touring setups, the balance of lightness and fun is crucial and largely dependent on your end goal.

Any downhill ski can theoretica­lly be set up for use in the backcountr­y (or touring), but alpine touring skis designed specifical­ly for backcountr­y use usually feature lighter weight designs that make hiking uphill drasticall­y easier.

Many backcountr­y skis offer touring features like notches in the tip and tail for attaching climbing skins.

Along with low weight comes some sacrifice in other areas, usually in the ski’s ability to remain damp and chatter-free on hard snow or to resist impact damage to the base and edges. Skins:

Skins are pre-cut or ready-to-cut sections of plush material that stick to the bottom of your skis and allow you to travel uphill without sliding back down.

This is because they have a ‘nap’ that helps grip the snow in one direction, and glide in the other.

Most skins use clips that will universall­y attach to any ski, although pre-cut skins are often designed to interface with holes or notches in particular models of ski. Bindings:

Backcountr­y touring bindings allow the heel to move freely off the ski while you’re skinning uphill for an easier, more natural stride.

When it’s time to ski down, the bindings lock down in the heel.

There are several types of touring bindings: low-profile, lightweigh­t tech bindings that are only compatible with AT boots with dimpled tech inserts, frame-style AT bindings that are compatible with traditiona­l alpine boots, and hybrid bindings, which are a blend of the two.

This binding style places a premium on stride efficiency and low weight, rather than adjustabil­ity or downhill performanc­e.

Hybrid bindings accept boots with tech-compatible toe fittings, but typically have a traditiona­l alpine heel piece.

New options such as the Salomon or Atomic Shift binding offer the tech toe piece for the superior uphill performanc­e, but then morph to offer a standard alpine toe cup for superior downhill performanc­e.

Other things to look for in touring bindings include heel risers or climbing wires that can give you a boost under your heel for climbing steep hills.

Brakes aren’t standard on some ultralight tech bindings, but can be purchased separately, as can add-on crampons that help with traversing treacherou­s terrain.

 ??  ?? ENJOYING THE BREAK: Out and about while the COVID-19 lockdown was in place were Steve Buxton and Rob Aivatoglou enjoying ‘touring’.
ENJOYING THE BREAK: Out and about while the COVID-19 lockdown was in place were Steve Buxton and Rob Aivatoglou enjoying ‘touring’.
 ??  ?? FITTING WELL: Jim Hynes takes time to fit his ‘skins’ to his touring skis before taking off for a climb up Mt Buller’s heavily laden runs.
FITTING WELL: Jim Hynes takes time to fit his ‘skins’ to his touring skis before taking off for a climb up Mt Buller’s heavily laden runs.
 ??  ?? OUT BACK: Taking advantage of some of the back trails with heavy snows were Andrew Graham and Steve Buxton enjoying touring.
OUT BACK: Taking advantage of some of the back trails with heavy snows were Andrew Graham and Steve Buxton enjoying touring.
 ??  ?? ALL ALONE: An early morning start for Hamish Cox saw him touring pristine runs on Buller.
ALL ALONE: An early morning start for Hamish Cox saw him touring pristine runs on Buller.

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